When I first saw the movie Avatar I will say I enjoyed it. It wasn’t an “OMG, that’s the most amazing movie I’ve ever seen!” kind of thing, but it was certainly entertaining. But there was a scene in the movie that left me with that head cocked, “huh?” sort of expression on my face. A movie moment that was intended to be poignant but to me seemed awkward and oddly placed. But for some curious reason I have pondered it over time and the phrase that at one time seemed peculiar I now realize is deeply profound.
Okay, okay. So the scene I am referring to is where Jake and Neytiri look at each other and speak the phrase, “I see you” to one another. This phrase is also mentioned earlier in the movie as an expression that the Na’Vi people speak to each other often. By the way, in case you’re wondering, I am not an Avatar junkie and I did need to look those names up on the internet. But Avatar devotee or not, we would all do well to think of the last time our attention and deliberate focus earned us the right to look someone dead in the eye and say “I see you” and absolutely and truly mean it. There is no question we all know an impressive number of people. Friends, family, associates, acquaintances. Spouses, children, teachers, co-workers, sisters and brothers. Our lives are chock full of all kinds of people. Too many people perhaps? But how many of them do we intensely know in that soulful, sincere, naked kind of way. Naked in that you see another stripped of all the pretenses that life has layered on over years of pretending. Free of the armor of appearances, expectations and impressions that weigh on our soul to the point where I wonder how many of us would even recognize what is truly the essence of Us anymore. So often the person we were born to be is a strangely far cry from the one that life and circumstance have insisted we become.
There are piles of people that talk about the undeniable power of authenticity, myself included. I will beat that drum all day long and believe in it fiercely. But for as much as each of us can and should fight, demand and courageously claim our authentic selves, it is worthwhile to keep in mind that even such a noble task could be vastly improved upon. When is the last time we paused in our personal pursuits for a moment and seized the time to look into someone else’s heart? I’m not talking about a mental note that says she would love flowers or he would love a carefree round of golf. Those are activities. And while thoughtful and generous in nature they aren’t the gift I am asking us all to consider giving. When is the last time we looked at and into the very soul of someone we love and said, “I see you” and in those words we spoke the truth of the deepest kind of understanding. What would it feel like to you, to me, to each other, to realize that someone sees the heart of who we are and embraces that Us in an “I love you and I’m never letting go” kind of way. You don’t need to act, impress or achieve in order to earn my affection. I see you, and you is enough for me.
There is an entire industry devoted to “self-help” of every conceivable kind. Help that promises to correct our faulty thinking and damaged self-worth. After absorbing the recommended remedy we will then be triumphantly ushered onto the path of personal enlightenment and professional high achievement. I however would contend that if from the beginning we felt seen and adored for simply and wonderfully Who we are, our turmoil would cease to exist. For as much as we all love our children in that “walk in front of a bus without a second thought” kind of a way, are we making sure our kids understand that they, and they alone own our hearts? It is all too easy to send messages that WHAT we love are good grades, good manners, their proficiency on the piano or that kick ass scholarship they earned. Every day I mess this up. Giving my kids accolades for what they DO. I need to make certain that the voice they hear from me embraces Who they are and perhaps I can at least limit their need for the self-help aisle at Barnes at Noble at some future date
Now I hope it will come as no surprise that I remain adamantly in favor of the passionate pursuit of high achievement. But once again, I want to talk about nouns not verbs. What if occasionally we took the spotlight off of what we DO and instead took the time to realize who our loved ones ARE. How many men have I met that climb the corporate ladder and chase achievement when they’d rather be a high school football coach, or a hunting guide, a bush pilot or crafting a fabulous microbrew. On the flip side, I’ve met countless numbers of men who have the heart and ambition to change the world, but are slave to job they can scarcely endure for the admirable sake of paying a mortgage and putting food on the table. When we truly SEE someone, it becomes impossible to allow them to choose between their passion and paying the bills. When we see into another’s soul we are obligated to honor who they are, and insist relentlessly on a life without compromise. Similarly, how many women have I met who crave feeling powerful and accomplished in the business arena because they think that is what the world, and most especially other women, will be impressed by. Yet in their heart of hearts, they long to be “just a mom” yet survey says this isn’t nearly flashy, sexy or remarkable enough. Then we dive into the deep end of hypocrisy when a woman pursues a job she loves and muffle our disgust over how she is doing irreparable harm to her unfortunate offspring. We are besieged by expectations that we can and should “do it all.” And as a result, men and women alike suffer from being “jack of all and Master of none.” We thrash around in our life doing a little of this and a little of that and ultimately making a righteous mess of things. Sure we are doing many things but not a one of them are we doing brilliantly. Am I suggesting we are incapable of taking on a multitude of roles in our life? Perish the thought. But I will argue to the ends of the earth that if what you DO isn’t purposefully woven to a part of who you ARE then life will be endlessly frustrating versus infinitely inspiring.
So what if we took these words off of the Big Screen and chose to try? What if we chose to give someone the greatest of all gifts? The gift of looking at them with all their fears, their failures, their hopes, their dreams, their insecurities and their wildest imaginings. What if we chose to reach into the deepest being and most urgent longing of those we love? What if we chose to grab hold of the silent truths of those we adore and drag those hidden heartbeats into the safety of our tender care? What if we could have someone truly believe that THEY are seen and that WHO they are is so much more than enough? What if we purposed to see those we love in that absolute and unconditional way? This extraordinary and uncommon kind of love gives us the freedom to live fearlessly. And when we live fearlessly everything…EVERYTHING changes.
Do you agape?